Water Pump
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Water Pump

All drinking and washing water had to be pumped by hand, the pump being by the side of the sink, with a huge lever to throw over to fill the tank for the bath water. Its normal position was so that kettles could be filled and jugs for drinking water. Once weekly we hired a man who took well over an hour, with occasional breaks, to fill the tank in the roof for our bath water. I cannot now remember the name of our 'pumper', although I believe he was a Mr Plumb. He had a hook in place of one of his hands, a casualty of the first world war perhaps. He had to pump until a veritable cascade of water shot out with great force from a pipe protruding from the roof, in close proximity to the front door. This could mean a soaking for any visitor unfortunate enough to be waiting to be admitted. The pumping became so automatic that we children had to take it in turns standing by to warn our pumper when the cascade started, otherwise he was apt to keep on and on, which could have had disastrous results for our ceilings, as the overflow pipe could not cope with the 'intake'.

It was a very deep well, in two parts, with a platform half-way down. I remember our 'pumper' was a man of very great strength, and not always in a patient mood. He could be exasperated at the time taken to fill the tank (I often felt the same way myself when pressed into service in an emergency) and any extra energetic action could fracture the rod in only one of its two sections. This meant an emergency call for - yes - Mr Jimmy Poulter to be lowered down the well to repair the fracture. In all the time we were at the Rectory we ran short of water only once.

This was in the summer of 1921 when for seven weeks, the flowers and vegetables were kept alive only by artificial watering, no hoses, only two pails kept from slopping over us by a wooden hoop, we walking in the middle of the hoop, one side of which was clutched in one hand with one pail handle and the other side in the other hand with the second pail. But it was a long and exhausting task.

Saint Peters Church  > Simply click to enlarge... then use the [Back] button to returnBut I have moved from 1916 to 1921 too quickly, I hope next time to be allowed to recollect the events, and the many good, kind people, some of whose names, alas, are now to be seen in the Churchyard, but who are as alive and dear to me as the time I spent with them so many years ago. Once we had struggled through what was a very cold winter arrangements went forward for what was to become an annual event, a summer Garden Party to raise funds for repairs to the Church, which, in that first year needed urgent attention to stop water coming through the roof.

Always we hoped for a fine day, and I think we must generally have been lucky because I remember only once being pressed into service to cycle as quickly as I could, and to as many of the surrounding villages as I could, telling people that the event was 'on'. Telephones were non-existent in those days.

HJ Child

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac